Jackson 5 Skit Sparks Outrage—It's in Blackface

Guest judge Harry Connick Jr. calls out Australian TV performers
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2009 12:16 PM CDT

(Newser) – A popular Australian TV variety program is under fire internationally for a skit that depicted Michael Jackson in whiteface and the rest of the Jackson 5 in blackface. Guest judge Harry Connick Jr., was shocked. “We’ve spent so much time trying to not make black people look like buffoons that when we see something like that we take it really to heart,” he said. The host of Hey Hey It's Saturday apologized on the air, the Times of London reports.

“If I knew that was going to be part of the show I definitely wouldn't have done it,” Connick continued. The performers and host defended the act, saying it was intended for an Australian audience. “I suspect things are probably a bit different in America in terms of what that means,” says the group’s leader. Another member expressed dismay. “The skit has raised the question of are Australians racist,” he tells the Australian. “We're genuinely horrified that our mistake could cause people to think that.”